September Issue 2009

By | News & Politics | Published 15 years ago

Punjabi jihadism has its distinctive features. Its leadership is trained in religious ideology, while its foot soldiers are divided between those that have received better schooling in government schools and those that are madrassa trained. While the bulk of the foot soldiers come from madrassas, the emphasis is on recruiting boys from government schools, who are sharper and comparatively more educated. Their education is a valuable skill for jihad. These smarter children are open to recruitment because often, they have already been partially indoctrinated by friends to militant ideology. Sometimes they are simply disgruntled: they have problems with their parents and are ready to leave home.

The fresh recruits are then sent on a daura-e-aam (simple tour), which is a 21-day training course in the NWFP or Kashmir, in which they are mainly given ideological training. Those that are tempted to stay on are later dispatched on a daura-e-khaas (special tour of three to six months) in which they are taught the use of weapons and military techniques. Anyone willing to continue with jihad is then sent to another highly specialised training mission in which their threshold to resist and inflict pain is developed. This training is conducted prior to “launching” a jihadi on a particular front. It prepares the fighter, as well as a trained commando, in the art of offensive guerrilla operations and the use of military technology.

During this stage, it is rumoured that trained military personnel (serving or retired) are involved, especially in the cases of the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba and Jaish-e-Mohammad. Since the training has been taking place for the past two decades, organisations also benefit from battle-hardened surviving fighters who fought in Afghanistan and on other fronts.

This post is part of a bigger story: see Terror’s Training Ground.

The writer is an independent social scientist and author of Military Inc. She tweets @iamthedrifter